Summer Seasonal Produce Update

Summer Seasonal Produce Update

Queen Vic Market Ambassador, Karen Martini shares her knowledge on the finest summer produce and what to look out for during your next Market shop. 

I love summer and its exuberance and abundance. Heaps of deliciousness and flavour.

Summer fruits and melon in particular are at their sweetest. Chill your melons well and serve watermelon points with shredded mint and lime zest. Serve Honey Dew and Rockmelon the same way or with thin slices of Jamon Iberico or Parma ham and fresh mozzarella.

A big bowl of cool dark cherries screams hot summer afternoons for me. Fill a bowl with crushed ice and pile high with strawberries and dark cherries. Also, a simple pleasure after a long dinner or serve cherries with aged goat’s cheese.

All berries are in peak season and will last into January. They are particularly good in full summer, especially around Christmas. Raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, boysenberries and sour red and white currants. Make a medley of berries and pile into a cream filled Pavlova!

Stone fruit, like peaches and nectarines, will be super ripe and full flavoured. Apricots will be at their best in December and early January. Get in quick and keep an eye out for the small yellow ones with a touch of sun blush.

Avocado, icebergs and many other crisp cooling lettuces are in abundance.

I am a bit obsessed with prawns at this time of year and there are many varieties to choose from. Try cooked prawn tails, a spicy mayonnaise sauce, chopped lettuce in a well buttered baguette and that’s lunch done.

Tomato salads of any kind. Firm skinned Doncaster tomatoes with salad onions and feta, heirlooms with basil and capers.

Now until March is the time to make the best Tabouli. Use baharat spice mix, fine cracked wheat, white salad onion and plenty of lemon juice and parsley.

Basil is in full season. Add to your salads by the hand full or make fresh pesto. It is superb with pasta but try it also on fresh crusty bread or toasted bruschetta. Serve with burrata or sliced tomatoes. Or try tossing freshly cooked cocktail potatoes or kipflers with cooked green beans and pesto. Top with boiled eggs for a meal in itself or serve with grilled lamb or beef.

Zucchini and squash are tiny and tender and use the blossoms raw while they are abundant. Slice thinly and toss with lemon juice and extra virgin oil with shavings of parmesan. Add plenty of basil and serve with a minute steak or roast chicken. Or grill thicker slices of zucchini and dress with dill and fetta and serve on grilled eggplant. There are many types available, they are very versatile and are not at all bitter at this time of year. So slice and fry, bake or grill on the BBQ and dress with an extra virgin olive oil dressing with garlic, lemon and loads of parsley.

Peas, beans, sugar snaps and snow peas can all be quickly blanched and then tossed into a leaf or grain salad with marinated goats cheese and mint. A very cool and calming lunch that can be served with bbq whole snapper, seared ocean trout or cured salmon.

Both white and green asparagus are absolutely perfect right now. Dress in a little oil, season with salt and pepper and grill briefly on the BBQ or in a very hot pan for three minutes tops. Shred some summer sorrel and sprinkle over. It has a gentle lemony flavour that is the perfect friend.

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